Guest Post BK

The Tolly when it was a serious drinking establishment

The Tolly when it was a serious drinking establishment

My first two postings tracked my gradual disillusionment with the corporatisation of The Tolly. I think much of this can be put down to the transition of Youngs, the owners, from an independent brewer with a small chain of pubs in South London to a subsidiary of Charles Wells. Charles Wells now not only brew Young’s beer but also that of Courage and McEwan’s. However, this feeling is as nothing now that I have seen what is proposed for the future.

The Tolly has been closed for refurbishment since March. Details of what is planned have now been posted here.

The Tolly mood-board

I have studied Mood Boards (urrgh!) 1 & 2 with some difficulty as I have found it impossible to read the script; but essentially I think they propose to merge the public and lounge bars by knocking through the dividing wall at the Royal Hill end. A considerable loss of seating also seems to be involved. The area from the back of the current bar in the lounge to some distance into the garden will be a giant restaurant/conservatory. The whole lot will be kitted out from some central warehouse with all sorts of ersatz French shabby chic fixtures and fittings.


The size and layout of the front bar, it only has two full size tables, seems to indicate that it isn’t really designed as a serious drinking establishment but is just some sort of holding area for the dining room which is where the real action will be. So, it looks like The Tolly will be a restaurant with a small bar attached.

What sort of a restaurant will it be? Young’s do a corporate menu of the usual pub standards; crab cakes, goats cheese tarts, battered fish and chips; bangers and mash and burgers. The sort of thing you can find anywhere. Perhaps the pub that The Tolly will most resemble would be somewhere like The Dulwich Woodhouse. However, there are two main problems if The Tolly is to make a success of being a successful purveyor of pub grub. First, it has very little passing trade and why should anybody want to make the journey; and second, it is next to impossible to park anywhere near in the day, and still difficult in the evening, again why should anybody make the effort.

Perhaps they hope to turn the old place into a gastropub with its own gourmet menu. The problem with this is that are already two such establishments, The Hill and The Prince Of Greenwich, within fifty yards, and also an artisan craft brewery/restaurant next door. Throw in the nearby North Pole, Davy’s and The Rivington and I reckon that Royal Hill needs another gastropub as much as Blackheath Village needs a new Estate Agent.

So, who will be flocking to dine in this wonderful new conservatory? Perhaps the new residents of the area’s rapidly proliferating luxury apartments will stop drinking their Sauvignon Blanc on their Juliet Balconies; abandon their Waitrose ready meals in their designer kitchens, and flood across Greenwich South Street. But this is unlikely, especially as most of them would find it a bit of a slog from Singapore or Hong Kong.

Is this the end of The Tolly? A corporate gastropub among so many others. What would Harry and John and their pickled eggs have made of it?

And can anybody explain the bicycle?

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